a camping trip of ridiculous proportions

mal with salmon

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Anzac Day Salmon Mission

Wow it’s been over a year already since our last long weekend salmon hunt. This year, instead of Easter, we headed down for the Anzac Day long weekend.

There are many things different between this camp and our camp from a year ago. A big change is that this time we took quite a varied supply of food rather than just potatoes, carrots and onions. But perhaps the most significant change is the addition of a little mini miss outbackjoe!

joe with baby

baby in the dunes

We’re training her up nice and early to become an expert salmon spotter just like her dad.

teaching baby to spot salmon

On this camp we experienced an amazing salmon feeding frenzy. Salmon arrived in plague proportions and were jumping around everywhere right in front of our camp. The salmon were chasing herring into the shallows and were swimming right around us, even bumping into our feet. The herring were jumping out of the water and beaching themselves on the sand in an effort to escape the pursuing salmon.

We caught a butt load of salmon. More salmon than I’ve ever seen. And as a bonus we had a free feed of beached herring that even the staunchest animal activist would be happy with, since the herring died of natural causes. We chucked back most of the salmon we caught but cruelly slaughtered a couple.

Catching so much salmon is extremely tiring.

salmon fishing is tiring

We tried something different with our salmon preparation this time – salmon civeche. Civiche is marinading raw fish in vinegar and citrus juice (plus whatever extra flavours you want, we used onions and chilli). The flesh goes white like it’s been cooked and remains mild flavoured and relatively tender. Sharni even described it as tasting “nice”, which is tremendous for Australian salmon. Last time she said it tasted like shit. There is a risk of getting food poisoning by eating salmon this way, but fortunately we have the finest sashimi chef skills so that we can safely prepare the raw salmon for marinading.

We also smoked some of the salmon. Last time we smoked salmon it was over cooked and pungently fishy. This time we were extra careful not to over cook it and it actually turned out pretty good. Also it helped that we discarded the darker coloured meat which minimizes the strong fishy flavours.

We had a great camp and improved our salmon preparation skills with some good civeche and smoked salmon. Bring on next salmon season! Maybe we’ll revert back to bringing bugger all food and living off fresh salmon and beer.

easter australian salmon deepdene


Easter Camp Deepdene Beach

For Easter I teamed up with Hongo (again) for a traditional Easter salmon hunting mission in southwest WA. Our location of choice – Deepdene Beach, near Augusta – the place where both Hong and I landed our first salmon many years ago.

For this camp, for food, we decided to take only potatoes, carrots, onions and flour. The idea was spawned from Spudshed’s 9 cents per kilo sale on potatoes, carrots and onions and the desire to do away with the old wussy excuse of “Wah Wah Australian Salmon aren’t very nice eating fish I’m a big fussy baby” and actually eat the salmon we catch, along with any other fish we managed to land. This would be a good motivator to actually get off our ass and do some fishing. And maybe, when we’re hungry, Australian Salmon might actually taste good. That’s what we hoped.

food for easter camp

The food we took for a six day camp for two people.

Despite not being on the 9 cents / kilo list and being quite expensive (at a cost of several dollars), we included flour in our menu so we could cook up some beer damper to add some variation to our diets. So armed with Hong’s fish smoker and less than $15 worth of food, we set off on our six day adventure (we also had condiments like salt, oil, chilli powder, garlic and tomato sauce and of course a couple of cartons of beer).

First day on camp saw a salmon caught and immediately filleted and put into the smoker. It’s been a few years since last eating Australian Salmon so I had forgotten it’s unique smell and flavour. As soon as that smoker cranked up I was reminded like a swift punch to the face. Damn that stuff stinks like sh!t when cooking! A pungent, asphyxiating fishy bouquet that permeates far and wide. The taste is similar. We struggled through eating most of what we cooked and I suffered the rest of the day with a rotten fish taste in my mouth. How much more salmon did we eat for the remainder of the camp? ZERO.

smoking australian salmon

Lift the lid and the campsite is engulfed in the pungent aroma of Australian Salmon.

smoked australian salmon The occasional, rawer chunk of salmon tasted not too bad. We made a mistake with the smoker, putting it on the fire instead of using the little metho burner. This turned it into an oven and overcooked the salmon. The more cooked, the worse it tastes. We planned to try again but were somewhat disillusioned by the experience and managed to catch plenty of better stuff to keep us fed (mulloway, wobbegong shark, silver brim, herring and whiting).

Check out these dudes who rocked up in their V8 powered four wheel drives and set up shop right in front of our camp. Out of several kilometers of empty beach! And proceeded to fish and make noise into the early hours of the morning and then pack up and leave. Nice one. That’s our tent in the left foreground.

friendly fishermen at deepdene

Did we make it on the news? Whilst Hong was battling to land a large salmon this helicopter hovered above us for a bit. It was a pretty big salmon, I’d say yes it was newsworthy. I hope my hair looked ok in the shoot.

salmon season news helicopter

Some friends joined us for a few nights. I reluctantly admit we did steal some of their sausages, baked beans and Easter eggs to supplement our diet. Some other noteworthy events include assisting a four wheel drive recovery for some dude who thought it was a good idea to do a u-turn into the water, a trip to Augusta for beer and lunch at the pub on Easter Sunday and an Easter egg hunt around our camp site.

Simple food was fun. Easy to pack, no lengthy food prep, no washing up. Plus it’s super cheap. Next year I think we need to toughen up and eat a bit more salmon!


Yeagerup, Lost Camera and Work

Salmon fishing on a beach in South West Western Australia is an important tradition for West Australian’s over Easter. Salmon are a member of the Holy Trinity after all. We cultivated that tradition with a few days camp over Easter at Yeagerup Beach south of Pemberton. Joe caught hundreds of salmon, possibly more, but unfortunately has no photographic evidence as the camera was lost. The old faithful Panasonic waterproof (and sandproof) camera which has come around Australia and overseas with us for the last few years is gone. Lost in the sand we believe.

To add insult to injury, Sharni and Joe have just locked in permanent jobs in Perth. We headed back to Perth for what was supposed to be a few months work but it’s now become ongoing. But the Hilux is stuck in Brisbane and we were only half way through our trip across Australia! How are we going to finish our trip? No one knows. I suppose we shouldn’t have taken 2 years to do only half of Australia.

So what becomes of this blog during our hiatus? The Hilux is going to somehow make it’s way back to Perth and we are going to try to make good use of it. We hope to knock off a fair bit of travel around WA whilst working. We’ll continue to document our ongoing missions into the outback through this blog.

Yeagerup is a good spot for camping and fishing and the huge sand dune system encroaching into the forest is an impressive sight and good fun for dune bashing in a 4WD. We camped right on the beach since all the camping spots behind the dunes were taken. There’s also some proper camping with facilities back inland at Lake Yeagerup but that’s too far from the beach.

We nabbed some photos off some of the chaps that came camping with us.  No salmon shots were found. If you find a camera on Yeagerup beach please let me know. Our camera can be identified by the millions of salmon photos contained within.



West Alligator Head, Kakadu

The chap at the Point Stuart Wilderness Lodge reception told us we should try West Alligator Head, slightly further down the Arnhem Highway from Point Stuart. So that’s where we headed. It’s 81km of dirt track to get there, passing a few other camping spots and billabongs on the way. It starts off pretty good, but the second half becomes sandier and badly corrugated. On the way we met up with Luke and co, a group of fellas who had gotten bogged and were walking towards the highway to flag for help. They hopped in and we headed towards their vehicle – a Prado bogged in a small but boggy mud hole. They had spent the best part of the day before trying to free the vehicle, before staying over night then resorting to the long walk to get help. A quick tug from the hilux with a snatch strap had them out easy. Luke was generous enough to give us a carton of beer for our troubles. Very generous, thanks Luke, it wasn’t necessary but greatly appreciated.

After the recovery we were back on the road heading towards the camping area at West Alligator Head. There’s an old shed and a few other relics there, used by a chap who ran a fishing business from the area. At the main camping area there are showers and toilets. Our first night we caught a catfish again. Then our lines got horribly tangled and we gave up. The second night we moved to jungle camp, a camping area set among a thick tropical forest right on the beach flanked by mangroves on each side with a small clear area of beach that can be fished from. Looked like a productive fishing spot. Hooked up on another catfish or two, chucked them back in. Then we hooked up on the big one. Something huge was peeling off line at the fastest rate we’d ever seen. Grabbed the rod and the fight began. A few seconds later it was over – we had a knot failure, lost it all. Bad luck. We can only imagine what was on the hook. A monster threadfin salmon I reckon.

Jungle camp seems like a good fishing spot, but it’s overrun with biting midges. Hong got decimated. Covered in bites that flared up into bright red welts. I got badly bitten but don’t get any bad reaction afterwards.

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South Coast Chapter closed – reflections of a fisherman

Fish Count: 21 (under sized fish excluded)
Rigs lost: 1

As we depart the coast I can’t help but reflect on the last two months of fishing. As you can see from my rigs lost count I haven’t done a huge amount of fishing. The first month was plagued by over cast and rainy conditions. The surf beaches were inundated with seaweed and the calmer areas were overrun with small herring. Even so I am very satisfied with the results especially the salmon & mulloway, two components of the prized Australian Holy Fishing Trinity. Packing up my rod for the last time after my 7 squid haul off Denial Bay jetty I had mixed feelings of both happiness from what I have been able to achieve and sadness from knowing I won’t be fishing these southern waters for a long time. Listed below is the break down of my catch.

Herring 4
Mullet 1
Salmon 2
Mulloway 2
Crab 1
Squid 11
Cuttlefish 1

Heading north now into the red deserts of Central Australia. I am hopeful and looking forward to the next chapter and conpleting the holy trinitybaramundi!


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Poison Creek Beach, YES SALMON!

We had parked up on poison creek beach in Cape Arid National Park and I was busy reading the third book in the Hunger Games Trilogy in the Hilux while Joe was fishing for salmon on the beach. I was disturbed by the faint sound of Joe screaming. I thought he was in trouble, drowning or being taken by a shark so I dropped my kindle and rushed out of the car ready to face the worst scenario only to discover that Joe was not in fact drowning but he had hooked up a salmon. The past 6 weeks of our trip Joe has been on a crusade to catch Salmon off the south west Australian coast without much success. I don’t know how much more ‘salmon spotting’ I could take. Finally success, a school of salmon had wandered into the bay at the end of Poison Creek Beach. Joe spotted the salmon school and began casting lures out into it. The school came quite close to shore making it easy to land the lure behind the school and pull it through. Joe had caught his first salmon of our trip by its tail while screaming in ecstasy. Joe caught two salmon in quick succession. He cast out a couple of times and forced me to reel the lure in to catch myself a salmon. I had a couple hook-ups but failed to share Joe’s success in landing a fish (thankfully). Joe released one of the salmon he caught and processed the other – some for dinner and some for bait. We could only stomach a few bites of the cooked salmon as they are poor eating but fun to catch. I think if you put more effort into cooking it, masking it’s strong flavour with lots of sauce and onions and herbs and cooking it in a way that retains moisture to avoid it becoming too dry, then it is more palatable. We just chucked it on the bbq. It’s a shame they aren’t good eating because they are heavy fish with heaps of meat. Shaped like a torpedo, with thick flanks that produce hefty fillets.

Joe was so satisfied with completing the first fish in the Australian Holy Trinity of Fishing, he considered finishing the trip around OZ and returning to Perth. Then he remembered he still has Mulloway and Barramundi to go.